Unpacking Donald Trump’s Psychopathology

trump-mentally-ill

Although Donald Trump does not have an official diagnosis of a personality disorder, many mental health experts believe him to have some combination of Narcissistic Personality Disorder, Antisocial Personality Disorder (sociopathy), and Paranoid Personality Disorder.  When these disorders appear together in the same person, we call it malignant narcissism.

Malignant narcissism is different from garden variety NPD in that, due to the presence of ASPD, the person very often has a blatant disregard for the law or the rights of others. There is also an element of paranoia, which lends itself to a toxic belief in conspiracy theories and a belief everyone is against them. The malignant narcissist will often seek retribution or revenge on others they believe have wronged them.   Often, they are sadistic and actually enjoy inflicting pain on others (I believe Trump is one of these).  Garden variety narcissists are toxic and usually unpleasant to be around, and they can certainly be abusive if you are unlucky enough to have to live with or be in close contact with one, but unless they are also malignant, they aren’t necessarily sadistic or likely to engage in criminal or deliberately cruel behavior.  A few might even have selective empathy, though their “empathy” could just be an act to get what they want.  A malignant narcissist has no empathy and no conscience, and they cannot change.

Donald Trump certainly appears to be a malignant narcissist, based on what he says and does.  The Dark Triad is another term for this combination of dangerous disorders.  Trump seems to have all 9 traits of NPD (per DSM IV, which I prefer to DSM V), and most or all of the traits of ASPD.  He also has some traits of PPD.   While most mental health professionals still stand by The Goldwater Rule and refuse to give Trump a formal diagnosis, some are so certain that he is a malignant narcissist that they chose to disregard this tradition due to the clear and present danger they believed Trump posed to the country and the world.  They believed it was their duty to warn others.  Their conviction resulted in a book that was published early in Trump’s presidency called “The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump,” a compilation of essays by 27 psychologists and psychiatrists describing what makes  Trump so dangerous and which serves as a warning of the existential danger of a Trumpian future.

Due to this book, as well as a number of other well known people, books, and groups openly discussing Trump and his likely personality disorder has broadened the reach of the narcissistic abuse community and made terms such as gaslighting, NPD, narcissism, and blame shifting household words.   We are all victims of narcissistic abuse under this man.  Before Trump, the concept of narcissistic abuse wasn’t well known outside of the online narcissistic abuse community. That is no longer the case, so in a way, Trump has indirectly helped to educate the world about narcissism and the suffering and chaos it can create in relationships, families, countries, and the world.

This article I’ve linked to doesn’t describe Trump’s narcissism so much as it explains how someone like Trump could rise to power and infect an entire country with his pathology.  A Trump (or a Hitler or a Stalin or a Duterte or a Bolsonaro) cannot rise to power without the cooperation and encouragement of a sizable segment of the populace who can relate to or share Trump’s rage or even his pathology, and a political environment that is rife for someone like Trump.  The United States, a country that has rewarded narcissism and selfishness and punished empathy in recent years (a good example is Border Patrol police arresting Good Samaritans who left food and water in the desert for  migrants), was a Petri dish for someone like Trump.   He could not have risen to power forty or fifty years ago or even twenty or thirty years ago, when the idea of the greater good and the values of democracy were still the rule, not the exception, in the top tiers of of government.  Trump isn’t the cause of our downfall, but he is the glaring sympton of a desperately sick society and is certainly helping to fan the flames of destruction.  We can either address the problems that led to a demagogue like Trump, and fix the things that made us so sick, or we can ignore the warning siren and fall even deeper into the abyss of fascism.

The only issue I have with this article (and it’s a small one) is that I’m pretty sure more than 1% of the population (at least in America) suffers from NPD.  But as a society that rewards narcissistic behavior and punishes compassion, it might just seem that way, as such a society encourages even non-disordered people to emulate the traits of narcissism.

Unpacking Donald Trump’s Psychopathology Helps Explain the Toxic Reality Facing America 

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Further Reading:

Narcissistic Abuse in Trumpistan

We Need a Lot More Awareness About Narcissism and Psychopathy

Sociopaths Rule America

Trump’s Personality Disorder Brings Out the Worst in Everyone 

Hypermasculinity and Trumpism 

We need a lot more awareness about narcissism and psychopathy.

darktriad

Elizabeth Mika is one of the 27 mental health professionals who contributed to the  bestselling book,  The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump.   She is a psychologist who writes about narcissism, psychopathy and authoritarianism (specifically Donald Trump’s authoritarianism) on her Medium blog.  I follow her on Twitter (she’s under @yourauntemma if you want to follow her too) because I never want to miss one of her articles.    The other day, she tweeted this in reference to the many pleas to “remember the Holocaust”:

Unless we teach about the conscience-impairing character defects, like psychopathy & narcissism, shared by genocidal leaders & their followers, these calls for remembrance will remain hollow.

She’s absolutely right.   Even though the Cluster B personality disorders, specifically those in the Dark Triad — Narcissistic Personality Disorder, psychopathy (Antisocial Personality Disorder), and malignant narcissism (a combination of both disorders with paranoid traits)  — are getting a lot more attention than they used to, they still don’t get nearly enough.   There are a few terms formerly confined to the narcissistic abuse community such as  “gaslighting” and “blame shifting” that have recently become household words since Trump took office, but if you try to talk about narcissistic or antisocial personality disorder or malignant narcissism with most people you will still usually get a blank stare, especially if you try to talk about it in regard to the dangers these disorders pose to us all when a world leader is most likely afflicted with one or more of them.

Until — and if — the general public receives education in how these personality disorders work and how to recognize them, people will still fall prey to the phony charm and false promises of a narcissist in their personal lives, staying with friends and family members who are psychologically destroying them.  But even worse than that, people will still believe the lies and promises of con-men like Donald Trump or Adolf Hitler.  They will keep trying to find the goodness that must exist under all the flash and bluster, even though in all likelihood, there is nothing hiding under the mask but a black void of hate and fear.

Hitler rose to power because he promised to “make Germany great again.”  He promised jobs, a thriving economy, and a better life for all Germans, and people believed him, at least at first.  Later, when the deportations and roundups began, and militarized police began knocking on doors late at night, people may have begun to suspect Hitler was dangerous, but they still wanted to believe he was what Germany needed, so they told themselves what he was doing wasn’t really that bad or even was necessary (but well-meaning).   This is called “normalization” and it happens both in countries and in families headed by a malignant narcissist.    When there are too many outrages, people can’t process them normally, and things that were once seen as outrageous or shocking begin to seem normal.   As the dividing line between what is “normal” and what is “not normal” continues to shift, more and more “not normal” behavior is tolerated.   This is how a psychopathic or narcissistic leader conditions average, non-sociopathic people to accept the unthinkable.   It takes time, but eventually even genocide begins to be seen as acceptable or at least doesn’t raise any eyebrows.

hitler

Leaders with malignant narcissism and/or psychopathy tend to be very charismatic and forceful.   They seem extremely confident and this makes people trust them.   They say things like, “I alone can fix it” (this is always a red flag) or “I am all you need.”  They make lofty and unrealistic promises.  They brag about past accomplishments and  exaggerate what they have accomplished (which often wasn’t much).  They take credit for things others have done.  Whenever they are found to be lacking, or when they are called out for their lies and hypocrisy, they will never accept that blame and will either deny their wrongdoing, or blame it on someone else.   They never apologize.

They may seem to care about you, but they don’t, for they have no empathy.   They see everything in black and white.   They are blind to nuance in others.   You are not a person to a narcissistic or psychopathic leader: if you are not useful to them in some way (if you are useful they will shower you with praise — in relationships this is called “love-bombing”),  then you are the enemy.    And when you become an enemy, you are fair game for vengeance.   These people believe in revenge and “getting back at” their perceived enemies.

They speak in superlatives.  What they have done is always the best, the biggest, the most, the greatest.  They had the biggest crowd at their inauguration, they have created the most jobs, and they are the most beloved or respected leader in the entire world or even in all of history.   If their lies or misdeeds are pointed out to them, they become enraged.  Sometimes this rage manifests as self pity, and their self pity is as grandiose as their self-aggrandizement.  When they think they’ve been wronged, no one else has ever been so wronged or so mistreated as they have been!  They turn self pity into another contest of superlatives:  Trump whining to a group of Boy Scouts about how he was the most misunderstood and poorly treated politician in American history!

If they have deemed you an enemy (which doesn’t take a lot — you need only disagree with them to be devalued), you are the worst person on the face of the planet and have no redeeming qualities.  You will be devalued and called hurtful names, and that’s just for starters.    Leaders with malignant narcissism are very paranoid and always suspect others — often their political rivals or people who merely disagree with them, but have no ill intentions — of plotting against them, talking badly about them, or trying to destroy them or take away their power.    They pre-emptively fight back by attempting to discredit, dehumanize, or destroy their rivals or perceived enemies.

These kinds of leaders (who are almost always male) are fixated on toxic masculinity.  They admire and emulate those who they see as “strong.”  Thus, they glorify war, forceful oppression, abuse of power,  police brutality, and total control.   They value authoritarianism much more highly than democracy, which requires cooperation and some semblance of empathy.   They look down on higher values like compassion, humility, forgiveness, or love as “weak” or “feminine.”   They also like to “punch down” — which means enacting draconian policies or shifting blame onto the most  vulnerable or the weakest.   It’s schoolyard bully behavior writ large.  They hate anything they see as soft or vulnerable or “weak” because they are so afraid of their own vulnerabilities.   Deep inside, they have little to no self esteem and hate themselves, though they will not ever admit it and may not even be aware of it.   They puff themselves up to mask their own feelings of worthlessness.

Because these kinds of leaders can initially convince people they are strong and powerful and can fix every problem themselves, and because they seem so confident in their ability to do so, people continue to be duped by them and believe the lies they tell.    They ignore the red flags (which includes making lofty promises and saying “they alone” can fix things), because they have not been educated in what to look for.

malignantnpd

If awareness and education about NPD, malignant narcissism, and psychopathy were more widespread (perhaps it should even be a required part of school curriculums), people would learn how to recognize the red flags and avoid such people in their personal lives — and avoid voting for leaders who have these traits.   As long as people remain ignorant about the red flags of these personality disorders, we will still be vulnerable to electing sociopathic, dangerous leaders and being taken in by dangerous people in our personal lives.   We will still find ourselves under the thrall of people and leaders who see us as nothing but marks.

All that being said, there has been more awareness about this problem since at least the 1990s.   I wrote about the history of narcissism/narcissistic abuse awareness over the decades in this two part post — please give it a read!

How Did Narcissism Get So “Popular”? (part 1) 

How Did Narcissism Get So “Popular”? (part 2)  

So things are better than they’ve ever been, but we still have a long way to go.   If there was enough awareness, we would not be in danger of repeating what happened during the Holocaust.

 

Gang-stalking: is it real or just a conspiracy theory?

gang_stalking

I’ve been seeing a lot lately about a phenomenon called gang-stalking (sometimes referred to as “community terrorism”).   Gang-stalking means one person is targeted by Dark Triad people (psychopaths, sociopaths and malignant narcissists and their flying monkeys, most who don’t even personally know you) for nefarious reasons that are never specified but who want you to know you are being watched.  The stalkers seem to have an uncanny, almost supernatural way of infiltrating and ruining every area of your life, even when logic would dictate some situations simply wouldn’t be possible (such as pre-emptively knowing exactly where you will be 24/7 in order to harass you).   The goal is to drive you (the “Targeted Individual,” or “TI”) insane or to suicide–or have you incarcerated in a prison or mental institution–or even killed.   Here are two articles about it.  You can Google “gang-stalking” and find hundreds more.

https://taknbsorbemwon5.wordpress.com/2014/04/14/suspect-gang-stalking-when/

https://www.newswithviews.com/Stuter/stuter78.htm

Here’s a well written, sometimes humorous, but VERY long, article by an individual who may have been gang-stalked (or maybe not), but at least has the ability to use critical thinking, something that seems to be in short supply in these post- 9/11 days where everyone, from the benign looking cashier at the grocery store to your kid’s teacher, becomes a potential terrorist:

http://in2worlds.net/gangstalking-and-targeted-individuals

I don’t know whether to believe it or not.   Of course it’s a fact that high spectrum malignant narcissists and psychopaths/sociopaths can and do recruit flying monkeys to destroy your reputation and your life.   I’ve seen it happen to others and I’ve experienced it.   But where does their power over you end?    I don’t see how it’s possible, for example, to be treated rudely in stores or given bad or dishonest service by complete strangers or how your abuser(s) would have managed to influence them ahead of time.   How would it be possible to be “black-listed” for every job you apply for if you don’t have a criminal record (unless they are somehow able to create a fake criminal background for you)?  How could they cause random people on the street to give each other knowing looks whenever you pass by, or shout abusive things at you?  How could your abuser cause you to get the “evil eye” from strangers sitting across you on a bus or deliberately have people move into the apartment over yours who blast their music and fight all night with the sole intention to cause you to suffer sleep deprivation and drive you slowly insane?

Some people suggest a demonic, supernatural influence.  They say this exists because the world is being taken over by evil and is under Satan’s dominion.   Although I’m a Christian, I can’t accept this.   I’m a skeptic by nature.    Not because I don’t want to believe it and am in denial, but because I think there are better, more scientific and reasonable explanations for the seeming increase of horrible human behavior.   Actually I don’t think things are any worse than they ever were.  I think there are just more people on the planet and there’s the Internet and mass media and the mass panic that always ensues following a breaking news story that gives rise to all sorts of conspiracy theories.

Things were actually far worse a hundred years ago than they are now.  Abuse of all kinds wasn’t publicized and called out the way it is now.  Neither was bullying.  Back then, if you were abused (or bullied), that was just your lot in life and you were just supposed to suck it up because that was your birthright as a child, a woman, or a person of color.   What we call abuse today was considered normal.   What we would throw a parent in prison for today was just “discipline” back then, and a parent had the right to treat a child however they saw fit, even beating them daily or sending them to beg on the streets.  Or sending them to work 12 hours a day in a factory, as child-labor laws didn’t exist.  No one tried to protect you from bullies either.  There were no laws against harassment, sexual or otherwise.    In the old days, if you were bullied you’d be told to “fight back” or “stop being a sissy” if you were a boy.  If sexually abused, you just didn’t talk about it because “nice” people didn’t talk about those things.    If you did try to call out someone for harassing you (and you were a woman) you’d be blamed for dressing “provocatively” or something.   It seems like there’s more bad news today because there’s just more news.    Good news doesn’t sell so you don’t hear about it as often as bad news.    I also think where there’s overpopulation, problems develop, and there are definitely too many people in the world.   Things like cyber-bullying and identity theft didn’t exist because (duh!) there was no Internet to make those things possible. But things like slavery and public hangings did exist and no one batted an eyelash.

I don’t know about gang-stalking.  It smacks of conspiracy theory to me, but I could be wrong.  I do know that evil people can and do recruit flying monkeys and can and do target certain individuals.  It happens in dysfunctional families all the time.  Scapegoating is not a myth, it’s a fact.   But the whole idea of them having so much power that EVERY sphere of your existence is influenced, that where no matter what you do or where you go or who you turn to, trouble will follow you and there is no escape and you are just screwed?  I don’t know about that.

What are your opinions about gang-stalking? Do you believe it or think it’s an overblown conspiracy theory, like the belief that Illuminati is taking over everything? *   If you know you’ve been gang-stalked, I’m not trying to say you’re just being paranoid.  I’m not saying it doesn’t exist, but I am highly skeptical.

* I’ve  come to the conclusion that all the convincing Illuminati symbolism going on in music videos, films and TV is actually a tease intended to play off our paranoia.    These industries see people freaking out about “Illuminati symbolism” and play on that, creating more of it on purpose just to get attention (and hence sell more product).

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ETA:  It occurred to me that since most alleged incidents of gang-stalking appeared following the passing of the Patriot Act, which gave anyone permission to spy on and report anyone else if they suspected them of being “un-American” (this could means having left wing politics, being of Middle Eastern descent, being atheist, or just being “different” in some way), that gang-stalking could be a result of this.  I hear police departments refuse to get involved and have been instructed to ignore claims of gang-stalking.    Maybe some sociopathic or antisocial people abuse this “right” and report anyone who they dislike as being involved in “un-American” activities, and government funds are used to harass the target in order to silence them.   I do realize how conspiracy-theory-ish this sounds, but it’s a possibility.

My stupid ego stands in the way of empathy.

pride_humility

There’s been something on my mind that’s been bothering me a lot, but I’ve hesitated posting about it because it makes me sound like a terrible person.  But I’ve always aimed to be honest on this blog, so I’m not going to make an exception this time.

A few weeks ago, I made a new online friend.  She’s in a severe depression right now due to receiving some bad news. She was so grief-stricken she had to go into the hospital and get treated for her depression.   Since then she’s been confiding in me by email, because she’s too shy to publicly comment about her situation.   For about a week or two, we corresponded almost daily.   Our emails to each other were long and deeply personal, and they proved therapeutic for me as well as for her.

I’m no therapist, but I’m always willing to correspond via email and try to direct people to the proper resources or actually help them directly if I can.   I felt like I could relate to this woman; I identified with a lot of her issues. She said she felt the same way about me.  I began to think of her as a friend, someone I cared deeply about, even though we never met and we’d only been corresponding for such a short time.   I felt a great deal of empathy for her situation.  These empathic feelings are  something rather new for me, because only recently I was too busy working on my own issues and trying to recover from my own trauma that I didn’t have the time or inclination or even the ability to really be able to empathize with anyone else.   Lately though, I’ve been rediscovering the empathy I possessed so much of as a child, and it’s a beautiful and wonderful thing.  I want it to keep growing because it makes it easier for me to connect with people and makes it possible for me to be authentic and help someone else in need, which is what I’ve been aiming to do more of.

My new friend told me that writing to me helped her a lot, and I was extremely touched by this.  I told her she was helping me too, which is true.   I began to look forward to her emails, because, well, the things she told me made me feel good.   I felt my ego puffing up with pride like a loaf of baking bread.   I began checking my inbox several times a day to see if there were any new emails.  I was getting a little obsessed, to be honest.  I was jonesing for that feeling of being needed, of feeling like I was important to someone, of knowing that someone I liked and cared for valued me that much.

I haven’t heard back from her in a few days.  Now I’m becoming insecure and hypervigilant and wondering if I said something wrong or overstepped her boundaries or if she just got tired of writing to me.    I kept reading over our emails trying to find anything, any hint at all, that I might have said something offputting that ran her off or made her want to stop emailing me.   I found nothing but obsessively, I kept looking.

After 3 days of no correspondence, I finally emailed her again.  I was extra careful not to sound too needy, and because she’s so fragile right now and came to me for help (and not the other way around), I tried extra hard to not to project my own “stuff” into my email to her.  I read it over several times and it sounded alright to me, but I still worry she may be able to pick up on my neediness.

I realized with horror that my worry about her possibly abandoning me was more powerful than my concern that she might have had to go back into the hospital (or just couldn’t get online, or was busy, or whatever).    My insecurity made my email sound more stilted and less natural than usual.  I no longer feel like I can be as open and honest, because of my own stupid fears of being offensive or overbearing and making her think badly of me.  It isn’t her fault I feel like this–it’s my own ego getting in the way of the real empathy I have for this person.

This happens to me all the time, and is one of the reasons I’ve sometimes thought I’m actually a narcissist.  Everything is always about me, my ego, what other people are thinking about me, am I being validated, am I still valued by them, are they going to leave me, do they secretly hate me?  Even when all the evidence is to the contrary, I still look for the microscopic speck of dirt in my bowl of ice cream–and always find it even though it isn’t really there.

Yes, I do have empathy–and a lot more of it has been freed to me lately–but when there’s any uncertainty or insecurity and I begin to feel hypervigilant and paranoid.  I start fretting that maybe I’m being deliberately ignored or God forbid, abandoned, and all that wonderful, healing empathy I’m learning how to use goes flying out the window and everything becomes all about me and my stupid ego again.

I still care about this individual and want to help her, but I want my empathy to flow naturally and my ego to stay out of it, because all that does is fuck everything up.  I’ve been praying for this to change, because how can I ever really be of help to anyone else if I’m always worried about what other people are thinking about me?   This isn’t about me; it’s about her and trying to help her heal, not getting some sort of ego boost for myself.

I’m not going to email her again.   I’ll just wait now, and if I never hear from her again, I can live with that.   Maybe she got what she needed from me–the encouragement she needed–and that should be enough.   I hope she is okay.

If nothing else, then I have learned a hard lesson about pride and ego: pride comes before the fall.  True empathy requires humility and the ability to set your own ego outside the door.

Regression.

This is what’s going on with me now.    Comments are disabled here; please leave comments under the original post.

No, you’re NOT being judged and watched constantly.

Lenora Thompson, who writes a blog for Psychcentral, wrote this post that I’d like to share.    I think most of us who were narcissistic abuse victims are hypervigilant and even paranoid–always looking over our shoulder for the next attack.  We assume everyone is watching and judging us all the time, but they’re not.  We’ve just been programmed to think they are because we were surrounded by narcissists during our formative years who did.

 

No, You’re *Not* Being Watched and Judged Constantly

3550755709_d8be7ba08b_zWhen you’ve been surrounded by narcissists all your life, naturally you assume everyone thinks like them. Judges you like them. Hey! It’s self-protection. But they don’t, you know.

Holocaust survivor, neurologist and psychiatrist Viktor Frankl is renowned for saying, “An abnormal reaction to an abnormal situation is normal behavior.”

Being constantly watched is abnormal. Being chronically judged for anything and everything is abnormal. Hell, narcissism is abnormal, hence the name of this blog: Narcissism Meets Normalcy.

Unfortunately, abnormalcy breeds abnormalcy. It’s abnormal to be hyper-vigilant, but we developed it for self-preservation. Thus it’s normal…for us.

It’s abnormal to constantly self-criticize. But we learned to self-criticize, to anticipate every possible criticism that might be hurled our way. We learned to practice clairvoyance (thinking with the narcissist’s brain.) It was simply less painful than being blind-sided. Thus it’s normal…for us.

Read the rest of this article here.

It isn’t all about me.

paranoia

What I’m learning is that everything isn’t always about me.

I used to always assume people were obsessing in a negative way about me and would interpret, say, a neutral expression or a lukewarm greeting as “that person must be upset with me/hate me/is mad at me/disapproves of me” etc. Sometimes I have to make a conscious effort not to let my mind go in this direction if someone acts in a way other than thrilled to see me. Sometimes they’re just having a bad day, are angry at someone else, or angry in general, or are generally just an asshole to everyone. Sometimes it’s nothing at all other than my choosing to perceive a neutral expression or body language as something negative. It takes a lot of practice to get out of that habit of paranoia and hypervigilance and I always have to remind myself to stop taking every little thing personally and think outside myself instead. I think this is a prerequisite to being able to empathize–being mindful that someone else might have a problem that has nothing to do with me.

When does a narcissist cross the point of no return?

no_going_back

This question came up on the forums I’ve been active on. I think this question has fascinating implications but may never be answered with any degree of certainty.

Where the point of no return (the point at which a narc cannot be healed) exists on the narcissistic spectrum isn’t a question we will probably ever know. However, I have a couple of theories that ping ponged around inside my head.

1. Level of sadism/paranoia. (these traits were suggested by another forum member)
I think the ratio of ASPD traits to NPD traits would come into play–and most ASPDs are at least somewhat sadistic. I don’t know what the percentage of ASPD traits would have to be (and maybe it would vary in individuals anyway) but obviously a narcissist with a lot of ASPD is going to be more sadistic, and therefore more malignant/psychopathic, and that’s the point where no self awareness is possible–when a narc becomes malignant or psychopathic. Paranoia would come into play too, as I think paranoia rises with sadism. The more malignant the narcissist, the more paranoid (and sadistic) they will be.
For more, please see my article about The Dark Triad.

2. Soul-murder/cognitive dissonance.
My second theory about the point of no return is going to sound a little strange. I don’t believe the world is just the physical world we see. I’m not especially religious and don’t interpret biblical events literally but I am Christian (Catholic) and believe with no doubt that evil exists. Whether there’s an actual entity called Satan is not something I can answer. But I think there are evil entities, or energies, and I think M. Scott Peck’s book “People of the Lie” explains all this brilliantly (and was the first book to explain malignant narcissism even though it wasn’t called that in 1983). It was also the book that helped me identify my mother and my ex as MNs.

Anyway, I think it’s possible for a person (a victim of abuse) to be infected with the evil of another person. If it goes on long enough, the victims’ “narcissism fleas” (N traits picked up from their narcissists) can become cancerous and turn into full blown narcissism. If the victim was especially abused or sensitive (or was both scapegoat and golden child) they may be more covert but are still N.
I think choice also has to do with it. If one sides with their abusers all the time, or colludes with them in antisocial acts, I think something in the person’s soul can turn dark.

npd_spectrum

Once this darkness sets in, a person who was low-mid spectrum moves higher on the spectrum into malignant narcissism and can’t go back to being the way they were. That’s the point of no return. This has happened in wartime, with soldiers forced to do things that go against their morals like killing innocents, or accidentally killing a fellow soldier in combat — when these veterans return they suffer severe PTSD but for some, who were forced to commit deeds that went against their conscience and morals, they crossed a line into evil.

I think the mechanics of what happens is that when one makes a choice or is forced to do something that goes against their morals, there’s so much cognitive dissonance that a split in the mind occurs, where the person, feeling so guilty over their deed that it’s unbearable, takes the side of evil, to correct the dissonance.

I think all PD’s may actually be complex PTSD (c-PTSD) that is more deeply embedded in the personality.

As far as narcisissts lower on the spectrum (low-through mid spectrum)–and I absolutely believe it’s a spectrum disorder like autism–a non-malignant/non ASPD narcissist isn’t evil and hasn’t crossed the point of no return. It won’t be easy to get that “skeleton transplant” (and will be extremely painful!) but it can be done.

I hope my BPD wall of words made sense (someone told me that all BPD’s write posts that are as long as books with a lot of run on sentences, LOL!)

My son didn’t escape unscathed.

leavinghome
This is not a photo of my son, but it looks a little like him.

My 23 year old son was scapegoated and bullied by his father when he was a child and teen (which I’ve written about before). As the most sensitive and nervous child in the family who was able to see through his father’s malignant narcissism, his father began to target him for abuse when it became clear to him my son had a good built-in bullshit detector.

When he was 17 he moved out of our home to stay with a female police officer who worked at his school. She was very supportive but after awhile he decided to move back in with us briefly. When he turned 18, he moved to another state and has not been back, although he does talk to me on a regular basis. Due to lack of funds, I’ve only seen him 3 times since he moved out in 2010. He is doing well though–working two jobs, one as a management trainee for a chain of convenience stores in the Tampa, Florida area, the other as a Carraba’s server where he sometimes pulls in as much as $700 in a single weekend.

He has many interests and talents, including dancing, animation, and filmmaking (which is what he really would love to do). He came out as gay when he was 17. After that happened, he transformed from being a nerdy, nervous teenager with few friends to a very popular young man with a geeky, eccentric sort of cool and many friends. He doesn’t do drugs or smoke. He drinks, but doesn’t appear to have an alcohol problem.

ianrowan3
Photo of my kids in Texas in 2001.

I thought he somehow emerged unscathed from the family dysfunction. He shows no signs of having any personality disorder, although he has reported having panic attacks and he tends to be obsessive in his thinking. He’s also prone to depressions.

Tonight we talked to each other on the phone for awhile and he described his obsessive thinking. He worries about locking the door, for example, and has to keep going back to check to make sure he locked it. He hates having anything dripped on him, and that can set off a rage attack. They are like panic attacks, but instead of panic, he feels rage. He doesn’t act on the rage, but he feels it. Then he feels guilty for feeling that way. He doesn’t like people approaching him from behind and is jumpy and wants to attack when that happens. He worries incessantly about the impression he makes on others and suffers from occasional paranoia, and thinks others are out to hurt him, even when there is no rational reason for him to think this.

kelphead
Sporting kelp “hair extensions.”

It sounds to me like he suffers from a severe anxiety disorder, and probably has OCD. He can afford health insurance now, so I told him to please see a therapist who can find out if what he has is OCD or something else, and possibly give him some medication and therapy. He’s willing to do this. I still think he’s the most mentally healthy person in the immediate family, and the only one who is doing well financially and doesn’t appear to have a personality disorder, but he’s far from unscathed from the abuse inflicted on him, and his hypervigilance and anxiety is no doubt due to that (though there could be a biological component too).

So what the hell IS malignant narcissism anyway?

The term “malignant narcissism” seems to be everywhere these days, especially on the Internet. But what exactly makes it different from “normal” narcissism?

Here’s a very good definition of how it differs from garden-variety NPD. I had no idea the term has existed this long!

malignant_narcissism_defined
Click to enlarge.

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